Feeling uninspired? Wise words from top creatives (Rappler.com)

(First published on Rappler.com on February 12, 2014)

Graphika Manila 2014 poster | Taken from the Graphika Manila Facebook page
Graphika Manila 2014 poster | Taken from the Graphika Manila Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines – What does it take to live a life less ordinary?

At the recently held Graphika Manila 2014, luminaries from the creative world shared the stage to talk about their creative process, their best work, the mistakes they’ve made, and lessons they’ve learned along the way.

We saw from their individual journeys that whatever the speakers’ backgrounds—whether they hailed from Barcelona or Bacolod, were a newbie or a veteran, worked freelance or in a studio—they all had one thing in common: they openly sought inspiration and designed their lives around what mattered most to them.

You can do it, too—regardless of your profession or passion. Here are 6 ideas to get you going:

1. Commit to your passions. Illustrator and creative director Ash Thorp admitted to coming from “humble beginnings,” and spent a lot of time drawing during his youth because he “didn’t have a lot of toys.

Thorp talked about his “year of complete potential”, during which he endured commutes every day from San Diego to Los Angeles “because L.A. is where the action is; it’s where Hollywood is.” Eventually, he got noticed by Hollywood producers, who commissioned him to do some work for the big-budget remake of Total Recall.

TOTAL RECALL. Screen shots of material produced by Thorp for the movie Total Recall. Used with permission from Ash Thorp
TOTAL RECALL. Screen shots of material produced by Thorp for the movie Total Recall. Used with permission from Ash Thorp

Today, Thorp lives back in San Diego with his wife and daughter, enjoying work and life as a freelancer.

His advice to the Graphika Manila 2014 crowd: “When there’s a trend happening, let the trend go [its] way and just be yourself.”

2. “Take your weakness and make it your strength.” New York-based illustrator and designerSara Blake/ZSO grew up near-sighted and with a “googly eye.”

Instead of looking at her near-sightedness as a weakness, Blake found inspiration in the many patterns she could see up close. Although she was a very shy child, Blake found solace in art and used her imagination and connection with nature to stand out from the crowd.

In a recent interview, Blake talked more about her creative journey and how she “embraced” her weaknesses to develop her own unique style.

Telling TheGreatDiscontent.com that she wasn’t the best illustrator when it came to drawing realistically, she said, “Instead, I decided to embrace that I use my instincts to determine what I would abstract and what I would base [on] reality.”

DON’T BE SCARED. “Skull 3”, pencil on smooth Bristol paper. Illustration by Sara Blake
DON’T BE SCARED. “Skull 3”, pencil on smooth Bristol paper. Illustration by Sara Blake

Blake tells the Graphika Manila audience, “Free yourself from anyone’s expectations but your own.”

3. Experiment. Learn. Have fun. (Rinse and repeat.) Creativity is the twin sister of experimentation. The more you experiment and learn, the more your mind stretches and makes creativity possible.

Each of the speakers talked about learning new skills, experimenting with new tools, and having fun with the process of discovery. Sara Blake even gave the audience a sneak peek into her creative process, showing time-lapse videos of her Photoshop screenshots.

In designing the typeface for her alias, ZSO, Sara Blake took inspiration from a heart, and joined the Z and the S in order to form an upside-down heart. Peacocks, owls, skulls, flowers, and other natural elements and patterns are also dominant in her work.

WEARABLE ART. Sara Blake, a.k.a ZSO, has ventured into designing fashion accessories, such as this peacock scarf. Photo courtesy of Sara Blake
WEARABLE ART. Sara Blake, a.k.a ZSO, has ventured into designing fashion accessories, such as this peacock scarf. Photo courtesy of Sara Blake

(READ: Take it from the masters: What art lovers can learn from experts)

4. Seek inspiration everywhere. Would you work with “Designers from Hell”? “Obviously, we’re not from hell,” quipped Teo Guillem and Carlos Pardo from Barcelona-based studio Dvein, but they were such huge fans of the rock band Pantera that they decided to name themselves after the Pantera album Cowboys from Hell. The word Dvein is an acronym for the phrase, DiseñadoresVEnido del INfierno.

“Ideas come from everywhere, from a mix of everything, like the Philippine jeepney,” Dvein said. “Sometimes you don’t know where your ideas will end up.”

ROCKSTAR DESIGNERS. To push the boundaries of their ideas, Dvein formed a band called The Vein, and created a music video for their song “Magma.” The result: liquid genius. Photo courtesy of Dvein
ROCKSTAR DESIGNERS. To push the boundaries of their ideas, Dvein formed a band called The Vein, and created a music video for their song “Magma.” The result: liquid genius. Photo courtesy of Dvein

Meanwhile, for Fil-Am Eugene Gauran, who now works as Design Director of the award-winning, international visual effects studio The Mill, it’s important to “be inspired by different forms of media.” Although working primarily with visual effects and computer graphics, he said that he finds inspiration in design-based forms because “everything starts with design, and you work your way up.”

5. Go ahead and be obsessed with your craft. “Obsession is the secret to an exciting life,” Bacolod-born Filipino designer Isabel Gatuslao said as she related how her “obsession” with typefaces and identity led her to do work for influential people, including interior designer Chat Fores, celebrity stylist Liz Uy, and, very recently, for Nike and NBA royalty Lebron James.

THE CUSTOM LEBRON X BY ISABEL GATUSLAO. Shoes made for royalty. Photo courtesy of Isabel Gatuslao
THE CUSTOM LEBRON X BY ISABEL GATUSLAO. Shoes made for royalty. Photo courtesy of Isabel Gatuslao

Every element must have a reason for being—else, it has no place in a well-designed piece.

Jessica Hische concurred. “As a lettering person, you get more obsessed with the smaller details,” she says. This attention to detail plays a key role in her work. In designing the cover of the book The Circle by Dave Eggers, which examines the issues raised by use of social media, illustrator and letterer Jessica Hische took inspiration from “the interweaving connectivity of social media sites.” The cover, which featured a cleanly beautiful spherical piece featuring interconnected orange links, was cited by the New York Times online as one of the best book covers of 2013.

For professional creatives, what matters to a client is to show work that reflects a clear and insightful strategy, a focused mind, and a clean, disciplined hand.

6. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Every creative knows that his first draft or study will not be his last.

A simple tip for those who are afraid to get started out of fear of making a mistake? Start with a pencil sketch of your ideas before committing them to ink or a digital rendering. Pencil sketches or doodles get the mind’s creative juices flowing while being clear that “this is just a work in progress.” Plus, it’s easy to erase, making it less painful to undo an error.

Jessica Hische put it another way when she said, “It’s hard to get clients to believe you’re good at something unless you do it over and over.” Make those mistakes. Assess why they happened. Note that for the future.

This applies even if you’re not an artist. Make your ideas real by writing them down, examining them, and consulting the relevant parties.

In creativity, and in life, practice makes perfect – and profitable. – Rappler.com

In the News: ‘The tweet is mightier than the sword’ (Rappler)

In September 2012, I was fortunate enough to have been one of the panelists of Mashable and Rappler‘s “Social Good Summit” in Manila. Here’s an excerpt of a feature about some insights that I and fellow netizen Jane Uymatiao shared with the audience.

To view my full segment, please watch the video on the right sidebar. To view a summary of the  Social Good Summit, please click HERE.

Hope to see more of you “super citizens” online! 😉

‘The tweet is mightier than the sword’

Writter by Paterno Esmaquel II, originally published on Rappler (September 22, 2012)
NETIZENS' SUMMIT. Representatives from various media outfits attend the Social Good Summit co-organized by Rappler. Photo by Paterno Esmaquel II
NETIZENS’ SUMMIT. Representatives from various media outfits attend the Social Good Summit co-organized by Rappler. Photo by Paterno Esmaquel II

MANILA, Philippines – The government should step up to protect Filipino “super citizens” who, through cyberspace, slam politicians and help their disaster-stricken countrymen, said a panelist at a netizens’ summit Saturday, September 22.

This is needed at a time when the tweet, in the words of another panelist at the Social Good Summit Manila 2012, has become “mightier than the sword.”

The Philippine government, in particular, needs to legislate a Magna Carta for Netizens, said Pipol Power Institute executive director Nina Terol-Zialcita at the summit organized by Rappler and Tweetup Manila.

In an interview, Zialcita told Rappler that various netizens have drafted a proposed Magna Carta, and will consult legal experts and legislators about this. She said the law would “protect netizens’ rights” and provide a framework “upon which we should guide how we regulate ourselves.”

“We feel that as netizens, we have a tool in our hands that is very powerful. We have to learn to use it responsibly. We want our freedom. We want to be able to act and share information in a certain way. We want to be able to deliver information in a certain way. But we also recognize that we also have a responsibility,” Zialcita explained.

This is an excerpt only. To view the full post, as well as the video interview about the Magna Carta for Internet Freedom, click HERE. To view a summary of the  Social Good Summit, please click HERE.

In the News: Top 5 Take-Home Tidbits from the Lonely Planet No More Seminar (Fully Booked)

Almost a month ago (and fresh after the grueling campaign!), I and my “writing sisters” from Writer’s Block Philippines joined Lonely Planet guidebook author Greg Bloom in giving a travel writing seminar to guests of Fully Booked Bonifacio High Street . It was great fun sharing our insights from two of the things we love most–writing and traveling–and to be joined by no less than an authority in the field.

Here, I’ll share an excerpt of what Fully Booked published in its blog, but for more meaty stuff, read the original post in the Fully Booked website.

Now that summer’s officially over, wouldn’t it be great to relive your travel adventures by writing about them? 😉

~ N

P.S. For an interesting look at what Greg Bloom thinks of Manila, read this post in ClicktheCity.com. 🙂

Top 5 Take-Home Tidbits from the Lonely Planet No More Seminar

Originally published in the official blog of Fully Booked

Fully Booked - Lonely Planet No More travel writing seminar - Niña Terol-Zialcita, Nikka Sarthou-Lainez, and Ana Santos of Writer's Block Philippines; Lonely Planet author Greg Bloom; Regina Cruz and Aimee Diego of Fully Booked
Fully Booked – Lonely Planet No More travel writing seminar – Niña Terol-Zialcita, Nikka Sarthou-Lainez, and Ana Santos of Writer’s Block Philippines; Lonely Planet author Greg Bloom; Regina Cruz and Aimee Diego of Fully Booked

Last weekend, Lonely Planet visiting author Greg Bloom was joined by Writers Block Philippines’ Nina Terol-Zialcita, Nikka Sarthou and Ana P. Santos to give nice, long, comprehensive seminar about travel writing.

Each speaker tackled a specific topic in travel writing—getting published, guidebook writing, feature articles, ethics. They also entertained questions from the audience of almost a hundred people, gathered at our Fort branch atrium space. While the seminar gave a great picture of the travel writing industry, how to do it as a job, and how to get started, here are five important take-aways from the workshop that are essential to anyone who would like to get into it!

1. Tell a story

“Each place has a story and your job is to find out what that story is,” Nina Terol-Zialcita mentioned. A travel article is more than a narration of what you did from the start to the end of your trip. Learn to focus on a certain part of the experience: the cuisine, the sights, the people, a realization and the events that led you to it, or anything else that struck you.

2. “Always try to get people into your articles.” — Greg Bloom

“That’s where the stories are,” Greg said.

“Imagine your destination as a person you want to get to know,” shared Ana P. Santos of Writers Block. How would you describe the person to others? Get talking to the people from that place and find out about the spirit behind it. Include dialogue in your article as well, as it shows the interaction and specific experiences that helped you build your story.

3. “Don’t underestimate the seductive power of a decent vocabulary.” — Ana P. Santos

The basics should never be taken for granted: well-written prose, grammar, a good introduction and a tight conclusion. What is heat vs. what is humidity? Know the nuances and words in order to provide a clear picture to your readers.

4. Know the market.

Research about the travel writing scene. What publications are you pitching to? What is the specific tone of that publication and how can your story fit into it? What are the trends in travel, and what would people want to read about? Where is the demand in travel writing? Is it in feature articles? Guidebook writing? This can also be a source of income when done well and done properly. The topics you write about should also be marketable to a publication and its audience.

5. Your primary responsibility is to the reader.

A part of the seminar was also dedicated to the ethics that govern one’s travel writing piece. While we want our readers to understand why we fell in love with a place, we also don’t want to be accused of ‘gushing’ over a city. Try to keep a certain sense of objectivity as well. While the article is written in the first person, the essence of it should still be about the place, and not about you.

This is an excerpt only. To read the full post, click HERE.

 

 

5 things travelers hate about Manila — and how the city’s tackling them (CNNGo.com)

CNNgo - 5 things travelers hate about Manila--and how the city's tackling them (by Nina Terol-Zialcita)It’s a great city, but what’s with all the traffic and trash? Finally, Manila is trying to clean up its act

By Niña Terol-Zialcita 

For travelers used to efficient public transport, wide roads and a general sense of order, Manila’s careening jeeps and buses, overflowing trash and a globally “hated” airport are a shock to the system.

Bill Davis, an American missionary and editor based in the Philippine island of Palawan, calls it “benign chaos.”

“That’s how it seems to many foreigners,” says Davis, who has lived in the Philippines for 30 years and visits Manila several times a year. “Frenetic activity. Almost inconceivable numbers of people everywhere you look. All in motion. Noise, music, voices … [Filipinos] have a tolerance for crowds and noise, and actually consider it masaya (fun) …”

Fortunately, the Philippines is waking up to the harsh realities underscored by world rankings and social media rants. Using our trademark ingenuity and resourcefulness, we are now starting to address some of the biggest things that travelers hate most about this gateway to the Philippine archipelago.

This is an excerpt only. To read the full article, visit the CNNGo.com website HERE